It is only natural for pregnant mothers to want to know as much as possible about their baby. Early fetal screening has been developed thanks to advancements in science. These screenings can give you excellent information in the first trimester that can be used to make decisions as your pregnancy progresses.
What Is Early Fetal Screening?
There are two main types of testing that fall under early fetal screenings. The first is a blood test. A mother’s blood can be tested for two hormones that are specific to pregnancy, plasma protein-A and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Having abnormal levels of either of those hormones can indicate a chromosome abnormality. The other test is an ultrasound which measures the size of the clear space found in the back of the baby’s neck, or nuchal translucency.
When the results are back, they are used in combination with your age to determine your baby’s risk level for having Down syndrome or trisomy 18. If it is determined that the risk level is moderate to high, more testing can be done.
It is important to note that just because an abnormality is detected it does not mean there is a problem with your baby. These tests are done to prompt further testing. Even a “positive” result only means your baby has a 1/100 to a 1/300 chance of experiencing one of the abnormalities tested for, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
What to Expect with Early Fetal Screening
One of the most important things about this screening is how early on it can be done. You can have this testing done between 11 and 14 weeks into your pregnancy. This allows you to have more time to make decisions about the types of tests you want to be done and the course of your pregnancy. If it turns out you will be having a baby with special needs, you will have more time to prepare for this.
The first part of the testing requires a simple blood draw. The blood is sent off to a lab. The ultrasound is the same as others you will have during your pregnancy. You simply lie on your back while a transducer is moved across your belly. Sound waves are reflected, and this information is used to measure the nuchal translucency.
If you would like to learn more about early fetal screening at South Lake Obstetrics & Gynecology in Clermont, FL and what it may mean for you and your pregnancy, contact our office today to schedule your appointment! We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.